Director Robert Schwentke scored something of a surprise hit with 2010's stylish action-comedy RED, and his upcoming summer release, R.I.P.D. looks to have a similar tone (albeit with a plot involving detectives from the Great Beyond charged with tracking down escaped souls on Earth).
With Galaxy Quest director Dean Parisot stepping in to helm RED 2, Schwentke appears to be moving away from comic book adaptations for his next project. Now we have some idea of what the director intends to do next.
THR reports that Schwentke is in talks with Disney to direct an adaptation of The Finest Hours, the true story of a daring 1952 U.S. Coast Guard sea rescue. Jim Whitaker is producing, with a script by The Fighter screenwriters Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, from the 2010 non-fiction book by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman.
While Schwentke has become known for his action-comedy chops with RED - and with R.I.P.D. looking more and more like a winning combination of Ghostbusters and Men In Black - it's easy to forget that he also directed the decidedly non-action-oriented The Time Traveler's Wife as well as the pilot to the Tim Roth drama Lie To Me. If Schwentke moves forward with this project, it would mean returning to Disney, for whom he directed the 2005 mid-air psychological thriller Flightplan.
Indeed, the tone of Flightplan perhaps comes the the closest to The Finest Hours. That film, which starred Jodie Foster as a mother whose daughter vanishes on a double-decker jumbo jet at 30,000 feet in the air, required a careful manipulation of both character and environment. The Finest Hours would be set on the ocean - a logistical nightmare in the best of circumstances - but it feels like something firmly in Schwentke's wheelhouse.
The book chronicles events which occurred in the winter of 1952, when the New England coast was hammered by a brutal nor'easter. Two tankers hauling kerosene and heating oil, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer, were caught up in the horrible storm; both were constructed of "dirty steel" - steel unfit for the conditions in which the ships were meant to spend prolonged periods of time - and they split apart. Dozens of men were left stranded, and the Coast Guard mounted a valiant effort to save them, relying on motorized wooden motorboats available to them at the time.
It's an ambitious project, and given that Schwentke has already proven adept at jumping in and out of several genres, he could bring a unique vision to what could become a big success on par with another sea-faring true story, 2000's The Perfect Storm with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, which grossed over $180 million in the U.S. alone. Of course, if handled poorly, it could also sink without a trace, like 2006's The Guardian, which starred Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher and failed to make a ripple at the box office.
Stay tuned for more details as they emerge from the murky depths. (Sorry, that's the end of the nautical puns.)
Meanwhile, R.I.P.D. (starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds) opens on July 19th, 2013,